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The oldest and most substantial Buddhist temple in Hangzhou's Wulin Mountains, China.
The Journey of Finding Soul to Lingyin Temple
Lingyin Temple was originally built in 326 AD by an Indian monk named Huili. He was inspired by the spiritual nature of the scenery and decided to call the place as Lingyin which meaning is translated as Soul's Retreat or Inspired Seclusion. The temple was expanded in the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589 AD) with the bestowing land from Liangwu Emperor, gradually developed and prospered during the Five Dynasties (907 - 960 AD) as there are 3,000 monks in the temple. Despite the fact that it was named by Emperor Kangxi as Yunlin Chan Temple during his visit in 1689, the people still call the temple with its original name.
The first hall that the visitor will see when they enter Lingyin Temple is the Hall of Heavenly Kings. Images of the Four Heavenly Kings stand beside the Maitreya (the Future Buddha), a laughing Buddha with a huge belly who is said to endure all intolerance and laugh at every laughable person in the hall, not forget to mention the painted ceiling decorated with dragons and phoenixes, a horizontal inscribed board with 'Yun Lin Chan Si' written by Emperor Kangxi which hangs above the gate, and Skanda Bodhisattva which faces up the hill. The area has seven rooms wide, five rooms deep, and a single storey construction, whereas the double eaved roof reaches to an apex, making it possibly to be the highest single storey buildings in China . In addition, there are Sakyamuni carved from 24 sections of camphor wood which is fanked by the imposing twenty saints which role is to be the protectors of justice, seated along the rear wall. Two pagodas of rock which were built during Song Dynasty are placed in front of the hall, impressing every person who takes a look at the hall.
The second hall of Lingyin Temple is the Grand Hall of Great Sage or Mahavira Hall which is separated from the Hall of Heavenly Kings by a large backyard with a raised lawn among the trees. Known as the best preserved multiple eaves and mono layer temple building in China, the Hall of Mahavira has a height of 33.6 m. A Sakyamuni statue covered in 60 taels of gold sitting on lotus throne is placed in the middle of the hall, famous for being one of the largest wooden sitting Buddhas and was carved in 1956 during Tang Dynasty. A huge religious art works made by 24 pieces of camphor woods with a total height of 24.8 m becomes another attraction that the visitor should not missed, as well as 20 standing heavenly gods, 12 sitting Bodhisattravas carrying the holy bottle, and 150 small figures which depicted some Buddhist stories about Avalokitesvara. Two pagodas of rock with fine carvings which were built during Song Dynasty are placed in front of the hall, impressing every person who take a look at the hall.
The Hall of Medicine Buddha is located behind the Grand Hall of Great Sage and contains statues of Medicine Buddha sitting on the lotus which is flanked by two Bodhisattva namely Suryaprabha (Sunlight Buddha) and Candraprabha (Moonlight Buddha), symbolizing promise and refresh respectively along with 12 disciples of Medicine Buddha in the sequence of twelve hours. Has undergone reconstruction in 1993, the Hall of Medicine Buddha is a single-layer building with a double-eaved hip roof, consisting of seven rooms across the width of the hall and three rooms running the depth of the hall. The visitors can learn the tale about Medicine Buddha which is said that he could remove all disease and disasters from people.
Recognized as the largest Hall of Arhats in China, the Hall of Five Arhats houses a total of 500 bronze seated statues of Arhats which each statue is 1.7 meters in height, 1.3 meters in width, and about 1 ton in weight. As for the building, the Hall of Five Hundred Arhats which faces onto the western side of the courtyard in front of the main hall has a double-eaved structure with the glorious overhanging roof and upturned eaves. The visitors are able to see a bronze canopy at the centre which includes the statues of four Bodhisattvas that become the representation of the four cardinal directions.
How to Get Tickets?
There are two ticket categories based on the season, namely RMB 75 during the on season and RMB 45 during the off season. Even though the operating hour of the temple last until 6.15 pm, the ticket selling ends at 5.30 pm so it is best to visit the temple the next day when you arrive at the temple near the final operating hour for the better experience.
How To Get Around?
Generally, the temple has a large area and halls so it is good enough to wander while observing the statues and sculptures. However, due to its popularity as the tourist attraction, the temple is expected to be crowded so the movement may be limited to the people who have walking impairment and use the wheelchair.
What Should I Wear?
It is best to wear courteous outfit as the Lingyin Temple is a highly respected place where Buddhism spread in China. Avoid wearing the short length of pants and skirts as they may be improper especially when the monks are around the temple.
Best Time to Visit
The visitors are advised to come to the temple from April until October as the season is comfortable enough to roam around the temple, whereas the operating hour started from 7 am to 6.15 pm.
Yuan or RMB
Will I Need a Guide?
Yes, because the language may become the barrier between the foreign tourist to the functionary staffs.
How To Get There?
You can reach Lingyin Temple by taking a bus 7, 324, 807, j1, or y2 to get off at Lingyin Station and bus 103b, 103, 121b, 121, or 324 to get off Lingyin Dong Station. If you directly come from Hangzhou Airport, you may use a Shuttle Coach to Hangzhou Railway Station and then take the public buses or taxis which are available in the station.